Bahrainis protest top cleric’s citizenship removal: Photos
Large numbers of people have gathered outside the home of Bahrain’s most senior Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, in protest to Manama’s revoking of his citizenship.
Following the Monday protests in the village of Diraz near the capital Manama, Bahraini security forces banned any manner of gathering in the village and sealed off the area around the cleric’s house.
Earlier, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry announced in a statement that the Al Khalifah regime has revoked Sheikh Qassim’s citizenship, claiming that he had actively sought “creation of a sectarian environment” through his connections with foreign powers, and that he had misused his religious position to advance a political agenda and serve foreign interests.
When Bahrainis heard about the decision, demonstrations in the towns of Bilad al-Qadim, Buri and Sitra erupted into violence following clashes between protesters and security forces.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has denounced Bahrain’s move and condemned the Bahraini regime’s intensification of its security approach toward religious and national leaders, opposition to religious beliefs and principles, and misappropriation of religious assets and funds of the people.
Major General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Quds Force, stressed that Isa Qassim’s sanctuary is a redline whose violation will set fire to Bahrain and the entire region.
Bahrain Forum for Human Rights has also censured the decision, calling the measure arbitrary and against international laws.
The Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, has also slammed the move, referring to it as “silly” and “dangerous.”
The decision comes less than a week after the Bahraini Justice Ministry suspended all activities of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the main opposition group in the country.
Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman has been in prison since December 2014.
Manama has also dissolved al-Tawiya and al-Risala Islamic associations.
Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has seen a wave of anti-government protests since mid-February 2011. The tiny sheikdom’s heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful demonstrations with the help of Saudi Arabia has left dozens of people dead and hundreds more injured.